Sunday, 8 May 2011

Cauliflower and couscous salad

Cauliflower isn't an easy vegetable to love, not immediately at any rate (and this fuzzy photo hardly helps). It doesn't call out to be adored, it doesn't jump up and down in the greengrocers calling for attention. It's a shy creature but with a bit of care and coaxing it can turn into something wonderful.

I didn't like cauliflower for a long time. then decided cauliflower cheese wasn't bad (how can you dislike anything when there's that much cheese involved?) before finally realising that there might be other uses for it as well The turning point for me was meal in when I was travelling in the Middle East at a castle called Crac des Chevaliers.

Embarrassingly (yet unsurprisingly?), the main thing I remember about the castle was the lunch we had there: an amazing feast of mezze. All the usual suspects were there - hummus, babaghanoush, tahini, flat bread - but there was also a plate of cauliflower that had been deep fried so that the outside surfaces of the florets were crisp and brittle and caramelised, and the inside was ever so slightly sweet and nutty. After that there was no turning back.

Deep frying scares the bejesus out of me so the closest thing I've ever created to that at home is roasted cauliflower, this time with some cumin and a few chilli flakes sprinkled over first. Don't undercook this, its charm comes from the browned bits.



You can eat this at is, or its very good rolled up in a flat bread smeared with hummus and maybe a few pickled chillies alongside. This time I used to top a sort of couscous salad with parsley added for a bit of freshness and colour and some pumpkins seeds for crunch to take to work for lunch.

Cauliflower and couscous salad

1 cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbs oil (olive or vegetable)

Mix together. Roast on a high heat (around 200C) until browned.

For the salad I soaked coucous in enough recently boiled water to cover until just tender then mixed in chopped parsley, feta and toasted pumpkin seeds. You don't need quantities for this, you'll be able to judge when it's parsley-ish, feta-ish and seedy enough for your tastes. Add enough dressing to lubricate it without drowning everything. Combine couscous and cauliflower.

Also, cauliflower roasted with cumin (but without chilli) is fantastic with grated parmesan added afterwards, almost like a deconstructed cauliflower cheese. Trust me on the cumin with parmesan - it works in the same way that cheese like Meunster go really well with caraway seeds.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Normal service is resumed

And we now return to your scheduled programming...

And to welcome us back there is pea, lentil and feta salad! Which is exactly that, doused in vinaigrette while the peas were still warm, with lots of parsley.

I'll be back soon. Honest.